Five years not too long in jail

Gary Ashworth
Gary Ashworth
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ONE of a gang who hit a cannabis dealer with a television set as they stole his stock has been told by top judges his lengthy jail term was “well deserved”.

Gary Scott Ashworth, 21, was one of four men who burst into the victim’s home in Grasmere Road, central Blackpool, and kicked and stamped on his face – causing a fractured eye socket.

Ashworth of Shetland Road, Blackpool, was jailed for five years nine months at Preston Crown Court last October after admitting burglary, causing grievous bodily harm with intent and breaching a suspended sentence order.

He challenged his sentence at London’s Criminal Appeal Court, with his lawyers arguing it was too long for his crimes.

But his appeal was dismissed by three of the country’s most senior judges, who said his sentence was “not excessive”.

The court heard the victim was a small-time cannabis dealer who was at home with his girlfriend and her young daughter and niece when the attack happened.

After hearing a tap on the window of his flat, the victim answered the door – at which point the four men burst in and he was held down while members of the gang searched for his stash of drugs.

He revealed they were in a kitchen cupboard and was then beaten up and repeatedly hit on the head with a television set, before the gang fled with the drugs and a laptop.

The court heard he sustained a fractured eye socket during the attack, which needed surgery, and was left with permanent scars.

His girlfriend and the two young girls who heard and witnessed the attack were also left traumatised.

The sentencing judge described the victim as a “soft target” and said he was vulnerable, as he was less likely to report the attack to police because of his illegal activity.

The court heard Ashworth had a previous conviction for burglary, for which he had been given a six-month suspended sentence in July 2010 – just a few months before he committed these offences.

His lawyers challenged his jail term, arguing it was over the top because the crown court judge didn’t give him enough credit for his admissions of guilt.

But, dismissing the appeal, Mr Justice Openshaw said the sentence could have been higher, given the shocking violence and the fact the attack took place in the victim’s home, in the presence of his partner and two small children.

The judge, sitting with the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, and Mr Justice Irwin, added: “Considering the aggravating factors, we are clear that the sentence was in fact well deserved.”

n Christian Lewis, 21, of Bean Avenue, South Shore, was handed a term of six years and three months.

Sean Mitchell, 21, of Marsden Road, South Shore, was sentenced to 11 years and three months, with three years on extended licence.

Darren Radcliffe, 20, of Princess Street, Blackpool, was charged with burglary and sentenced to three years and four months.